Two Key Contenders for Deputy Speaker

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Rep. Clarence Massaquoi and Rep. J. Fonati Koffa (in handshake) are the top two contenders for the Deputy Speaker post.

Representatives J. Fonati Koffa and Clarence Massaquoi are said to be in a two-horse race for the upcoming Deputy Speaker position, as other candidates backing off.

One early contender Rep. Johnson Gwaikolo has bowed out of the race for Rep. Massaquoi, while Representatives Samuel Kogar, Moima Briggs-Mensah and Crystal Duncan are all considering abrogating their respective interests. Previously, the house leadership positions were shared on the basis of mutual arrangements between the Unity Party and CDC on the numerical strength of the two parties.

The 2017 arrangement brought in Reps. Bhofal Chambers as Speaker of the 54th Legislature and Rep. Prince Moye of the opposition UP as Deputy Speaker. And now with Moye elected as Senator for his native Bong County, he leaves behind a vacant Deputy Speaker post, which is being heavily contested for by lawmakers from CDC and the UP.

With Moye’s elevation to the Senate, the mutual agreement between the CDC and the UP is no longer in play since the UP is no longer standing alone as an opposition Political party. The UP is now into a political relationship with the Liberty Party (LP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian party (ALP)– a conglomeration know as the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).

The agreement, according to Rep. Acarous Moses Gray of Montserrado County District #8, no longer exists since the UP is not standing along but as a member of a coalition.

Though this is now the case, Rep. Clarence Massaquoi said such agreement does not matter to him, since he cuts across the political divide of the House of Representatives, despite his allegiance UP and CPP by extension. According to him, as Deputy Speaker, he will work in the interest of the Liberian people and better their lives. “What I will not subscribe to is, in the process of solving that problem and if the solution to that problem is for the state, then we should have a relook; but if it’s in the interest of the people, I will have no objection.”

Sharing a similar view, his competitor, Rep. Koffa said as far as he is concerned, he is the only candidate that cuts across the political divide and strongly believes that his unique skill set of experience and competence would greatly help in accelerating the legislative rebranding, which was promised at the beginning of the 54th Legislature in 2018, if he is elected Deputy Speaker.

“I bring a unique skill set of experience and competence into the upper echelon of the house to complement the leadership so as to steer the acceleration of legislative rebranding, which was proffered at the onset of the 54th,” Rep. Koffa said.

Though Cllr. Koffa would not confirm or deny, sources told Legislative reporters that he is being backed by 28 of his colleagues so far, who have consulted him to contend for the seat. A close source to Rep. Massaquoi said he has 12 confirmed lawmakers in his corner. The remaining 30 lawmakers are still undecided (two outstanding and one certificated as Senator-elect). This mean either of the two will need to convince the majority of undecided lawmakers to win the second top position in the Lower House. After the Legislature resumes on Monday, January 11, the Deputy Speaker election is expected to be held on either Tuesday or Thursday, January 12th or 14th, respectively.

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